Technological watch

Scotland to ban burning farm plastics

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has announced that it will end exemptions for burning most types of agricultural plastic wastes in a bid to address the plastic tide. 

The agency will be removing the exemption for farmers, which was stipulated in its environment regulations in 2013, as of 1 Jan 2019. 

The decision is part of SEPA’s move to reduce the environmental impact of farm waste, and has been made following extensive engagement with circular economy body Zero Waste Scotland and Scotland’s National Farmers Union (NFU). 

Ending the exemption will align with the legal requirement for all Scottish businesses to present plastics and other items separately for collection. 

“From 1 Jan 2019 farmers will no longer be able to burn plastic and most types of agricultural waste and, whilst many farmers have been recycling this type of waste for years, it is important that all farmers take steps now to ensure they are ready,” announced SEPA’s waste and landfill tax manager Gary Walker 31 Aug. 

To make the announcement, officials from SEPA and NFU Scotland visited RPC bpi recycled products in Dumfries, Scotland 31 Aug. 

RPC bpi is one of the largest polythene film recyclers in Europe, which is expected to help recycle farm plastic waste after the removal of the exemption. The company has the scope to recycle up to 120,000 tonnes of plastic annually, including silage wrap and fertiliser bags. 

The wastes are recycled into refuse sacks and Plaswood lumber, made from 100% recycled plastic. 

SEPA, NFU Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland have developed a simple set of resources for Scottish farmers, including a list of Scottish recyclers who are ready to help farmers get plastic waste sorted. 

Publication date: 31/08/2018

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Last update: 2020-07-14